Dozens of young Canterbury rugby fans rocked up to Rugby Park with crash tackles and cross-field kicks in evidence as they learned skills from their heroes.
The Malvern St Gates to Rugby Park opened at 3.30pm so Ryman residents and guests (including prospective residents) could meet and greet with members of the Canterbury Rugby premier team.
Marty Bourke, Canterbury’s head coach for the 2022 NPC season, and Ryman Healthcare’s Bree Jones (Brand and Partnerships Manager), Sarah Direen (Partnerships Lead), Vicki Payne (Area Sales Manager) and Andy Reid (Graduate Health and Safety Advisor) were on hand for the welcome.
The group of youngsters were split into four age-based groups and moved onto the field and also into the high-performance area of Rugby Park. There were some high kicks, and of course catches at the end of the ball. Within the high performance area, partnership executive Cameron Clement gave some tips on fitness and showed off the gym.
Bree, Sarah and the crew fired up the BBQ to get the snags ready for some hungry fans, and of course some of the 2022 Canterbury team. At the session were senior players Joe Brial, Liam Allen, Willi Heinz, Corey Kellow, Alex Harford and Isaiah Punivai as well as Marty’s daughter Honor.
There were photos, signings, and a few words of inspiration.
Vicki Payne said there had been a continuing partnership with Canterbury Rugby in recent years. It was nice to reconnect with the Canterbury team after a year off due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve had a guy from Northwood (who has signed on as a resident). He’s come here and said it’s amazing… people are just amazed we do this type of thing,” Vicki said.
Sarah said invites had been sent Canterbury-wide to those who had an interest in living in Ryman villages to bring along grandchildren or children within their wider family. Invitations had also been sent to family members of residents and staff.
The partnership with Canterbury Rugby had also included a historical expo. The Ngaio Marsh village exhibition in Christchurch showed of more than 140 years of rugby memorabilia and archived photos and pieces. “We also get rugby game tickets throughout the year we give away,” Sarah added.